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Trinity RPG - Mojo Goes Swimming

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<H1>Mojo Goes Swimming</H1><H3><A HREF="mailto:rick@blkbox.com">by Rick Jones</A></H3>

<HR>"Go talk to the fish people," said my waterhead editor. Jamm it, I'm a real reporter. Fish people are for copyists who listen to anima bang. I've interviewed two Proxies. [click here to download Mojo sees a Rx and Mojo Plays with Prexy] But the waterhead started stacking up larger and larger piles of money until I figured it was enough for that heavy coilgun I've been meaning to get for the ranch. "Enough," I cried, "I will take your jamming sea cruise. You may return your head to it's normal cavity."

The flight out to New Athens was calm and the flight crew showed the proper respect for an aging journalist who needs his medication. While my neurotransmitters did their happy dance, I listened to my minicomp chatter about the fish people. "Dolphins are not fish," it gibbered. "They are mammals." Jamm that. They're fish. And so are the tsunanjin who live with them. "Although researchers have suspected cetacean intelligence since the twentieth century, it was not until the Qin visit to Makaroshima that Terran noetic researchers began using telepathy as a method of communication." Yammer yammer yammer. I fell asleep and dreamed of dolphins swimming through an office building, telling their human employees to work harder.

The steward woke me up by touching my arm. They should have known better and floatparty is going to have to pay for his new nose. Not my fault. It's on my flight notices. In bold flashing text. But it did get the old blood pumping the way only real adrenals can. I walked down the jetway and, as promised, someone was there to meet me.

He was a mere child. Barely out of short pants. He scratched his scruffy beard, cut just like the latest Kostbaar models. He said his name was Raoul, and he was going to take me down to the tank. He was wearing that annoying anima fabric that makes my head spin in unpleasant directions.

"Raoul," said I, "I am parched. I need libations. Flights always dry me out."

Raoul looked suspicious. "Uh, Mister Mojo--"

"Just Mojo, my good boy."

"Uh, Mojo. I was ordered to take you down to--"

"'Orders'? Think for yourself, my lad. Don't let the fascist work-ethic tear you down."

"Uh, down to the reception."

I stopped and looked at the poor, frightened lad. I certainly could use a gentle libation. And I wanted to see what I could pry out of his skull before my official tour started. In the end, I figured that the initial trust gained would get me better news later. I gestured grandly and said, "Lead on, my good lad. 'Reception', you say. Well that should do just fine. There will be chocolate there?"

"Just as you requested, Mojo."

I let Raoul lead me down. The aquacities have the worst parts of space stations and beach resorts mixed together. There's the cramped space on the inside, and the annoying sun beating down on the outside. I haven't decided which has a lower class of tourist yet. Raoul led me through the tacky NeoGreek architecture to a private PeopleMover car, and gestured for me to sit, as he did. I paced back and forth.

"So, aside from giving venerable reporters a lift, what do you do, Raoul?"

Raoul stammered, then started to speak, "Well, s-, Mojo. I'm Doctor Garcia's graduate student. I'm working on my doctorate in cetacean noetic theory."

Half-remembered background material percolated up to my forebrain. "He's the fishman, isn't he?"

Raoul looked uncomfortable. "What do you mean?"

"I mean he hasn't breathed air in over a year. He's transformed his lungs into gills. He's changed his body to adapt to the pressures of the deep. He's even got sonar like dolphins now. Christ man, he's got fins."

"Uh, yeah," said Raoul. "But he can survive in air for a little while." He looked at the toes of his shoes. "And he could change back to, er, normal... if he wanted to."

"And you... don't have a problem with that?"

"Of course not. It lets him interact with the dolphins in their natural habitat. They think he's more normal that way. They were quite disappointed when they learned that not everyone can change the way Doctor Garcia can."

I nodded sagaciously. "Rough for them. So what are the fish like?"

He started to say, "they're mammals," but my cold glare convinced him it's not wise to contradict Mojo. "The Psions are the ones who understand them best. And maybe the Qin. They don't have the same sort of reference points we do. They think in... odd directions."

I nodded in a reasonable facsimile of eagerness and gestured for him to continue. "They, uh, tend to use more auditory referents, instead of visual cues. And we had to develop a whole new linguistic set for sonar imagery. In English, you'd say, 'the ball is by the wall, but dolphins would say, 'I fartouched the ball close to the wall.' That sort of thing."

Balls and walls. Walls and balls. I was trying to figure out how to feign enough illness to get me off this boat with delusions of cityhood. But then Raoul led me from the PeopleMover to the reception area. Either I had mixed up my hallucinogens and smartpills again, or I saw a pretty jamming cool sight.

Some companies have their meeting rooms tricked out with virchgear so that the muckymucks can "meet" without leaving the security of their fortress homes and offices. My first thought was that they had virched together an underwater cove with a meeting room. Then I realized my glasses weren't painting the dolphins and humans swimming through the far side of the room as holos, and I couldn't see a bioglass partition. I looked closer, and there was a faint shimmer about midway through the room, and air breathers were on my side of the shimmer. It looked like a plastic curtain of some kind, rippling as it held back the tons of water on the other side. The air side's decor matched the water side's -- early Atlantis. The meeting table (which stretched through the curtain) looked to be carved from coral, and the whole place was painting in blues and greens, so it appeared that all of us were under water. Sunlight from up above the waterside painted everything with soft colors, and shifted when the dolphins occasionally went up for air.

"Greetings, Mojo," echoed in the room.

I looked over to Raoul. "Who said that?"

"Oh, that's Dancer," he pointed out one of the dolphins. "He's a big fan."

I grabbed Raoul's arm and whispered. "You're telling me a dolphin reads my stuff?"

"Well, they don't really like reading. They like moving around too much, and so they don't generally like to read. But we play the aud versions."

Okaaaay. "Uh, thanks, Dancer," I said.

I snagged some handfood and a glass of something flammable. and walked over to the barrier. As I got closer, I could see that it looked like Gell-o, though I couldn't see the material itself. Dancer swum up to meet me. "Mojo can touch the hardwater. Qin friends spun it," chittered the fish. I reached out and felt the wall. It felt like stiff water. Bizarre.

Another voice played on the speaker. "Pleasing to nearsee you," I looked around to see which fish was addressing me. Gentle readers, I will believe seven impossible things before breakfast, but between lunch and dinner, my suspension of disbelief only goes so far. Swimming down from the surface was another dolphin, or so I thought at first. Then I saw that this "dolphin" was colored funny. Then I saw he didn't move exactly like a dolphin, but in a jittery stop-motion way that was both fluid and... not. And then I realized I was speaking to a Qin.

I took a drink to steady my jangly nerves and looked up. "I am honored, ambassador of Qinshui." Look folks, if you suspected that the Qin didn't really look human, but simply dressed that way, now you know for sure. Gods above, he was a fish too. "How are you enjoying your stay in the waters?"

"It is calming to swim with your water people. The Dancing One and I are going out to the truewater, but I am being curious to swim near you. Your word plays give me curiosity" He and Dancer nodded as much as a dolphin can, and swum up to the sun. I gulped my drink and looked around for another. Raoul coughed and said, "Swims-Far-Across -- that's the Qin's name, he always forgets to give it, like he assumes you know who he is -- likes dolphins more than humans, so he tends to speak like they do. He used to speak perfect English and Chinese, but he's let it go. We don't really care since we understand him. Doctor Garcia is in the medical tank. He apologizes for the delay but--"

"Fiddlefaddle. I will go to the mountain. Or the tank. And I will talk to Doctor Garcia there. Where is it, my good lad?"

Raoul started to protest. "But sir--"

"Mojo, jamm it! What's he doing down there? Does he have something to hide?"

"No, but he's treating an injured--"

"Then we go." I started stomping off, not even aware of where I needed to go, but sure that Raoul would cave. His type always does. The years of being hammered down by the organized educational system engenders a certain flexibility of spine only matched by the average anima-head.

Raoul caved. He took me to the edge of a big pool. The water lapped at the edges. "He's down there. It leads to the dolphin habitat. The dolphins don't have a real sense of privacy, but Dr. Garcia doesn't like people gawking at them like they were in some kind of circus."

"Nothing wrong with circus folk," I muttered. "How long is he going to be in there?"

Raoul stammered, "W-w-well, his agentpage said it would be a while. Spinner got too close to a transport again, and has a mild concussion. Dr Garcia has him under observation. It could be hours."

Or a stonewall. I know the drill. Doctors love it. Certainly establishes dominance. Jamm that. I looked around, and saw what I was looking for. I went to the locker marked "Aqualungs" and started pulling on the wet suit. Raoul gibbered like a fish out of water, but I ignored him. Mojo doesn't get stonewalled. Two Presidents and a Proxy have learned that. Some waterhead shifter wasn't going to get any better.

Raoul gibbered and sputtered and eventually I just had to web him to the lockers with my holdout.

The water hummed like an aud player turned way down. As I sunk down, I saw tubes stretching off in different directions, each playing a different subaudial tune. Quite fresh, I have to say. I wondered how much it would cost to put stuff like that in the ranch's pool.

Fortunately for me, there were printed signs, and I followed a tube marked "hospital." Up ahead, I heard the clicks and chitters of dolphin. I wondered how to ask for directions, and hoped they spoke English.

It wasn't two dolphins. It was one dolphin and something that once was human. They were swimming laps, like kids who misbehaved in gym class. The dolphin was woozy, like me before my first tab of the morning. The once-man was graceful and elegant. And just looking at him made me once again think I had mixed up the hallucinogens again.

The former man turned to me. He was naked (like the dolphin, I thought), but his skin was the slick grey stuff the fish had. He had melded his legs together like a merman. His upper body was streamlined, and his arms fit along his body. His face was the freak show. Big black eyes and no nose. Gills pulsed along his neck. His features were still human enough for me to tell he was pissed. Like that was supposed to impress me.

"I'm recording now," I said. "So, why sea-mammals, Doctor Garcia?"

He gestured for the fish to keep swimming. He came down and looked at me. As he did, his face shifted a bit, giving it more agile lips. "You are persistent. You do know that the only reason I am even speaking to you is because it will help our funding efforts."

"That's not an answer. Why come down here and swim with the fishes?"

He looked around. "Man came from the sea, Mister Mojo. It was our first home."

"I moved out when I was twelve and never looked back, Doc. I'm not seeing the appeal."

He chittered something under his breath in dolphin. I later had it translated to "smelly waters," as close as the fish get to cussing. "Think of it. Most of the Earth is covered with water. We could expand on Earth quicker and more easily than we could anywhere else."

I scratched and wished I could smoke down here. "But not all of us have your talents. I need this damn fool gadget just to breathe."

"But it's much more simpler than the equipment you would need to live on the Moon. It's much safer. We could house the world's population over again multiple times, and bring in Luna and Mars' people as well. For a fraction of the cost."

"I dunno, Doc. I'd rather go to the Moon than down here. Sure it's dirty and there are too many peepers there, but isn't there more adventure out in the stars?"

"Adventure?" he harumphed. "There are things out there, Mister Mojo. Mankind drew attention to itself by going to the stars. I do not wish to think about what will come to call someday. So I take my work down into the warm waters of Mother Earth. Perhaps under the waves, we will not be noticed."

Thank you, Chicken little. "Uh-huh. Well. Tell me about your--"

"No, I think not. I am done. You may talk with my assistants. Perhaps even the Qin. (He likes your prose, though I find it self-absorbed.) I have nothing else to say."

And he didn't. He didn't say a word. I toured the rest of the facility. I even got whacked out on some undersea plant-life the dolphins like. But it was pretty boring after that.

Well, except for when I brought the barbecue pit down into the habitat.

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